Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55: 10-11; Romans 8: 18-23; Matthew 13: 1-23
Saint John Baptist de la Salle/Saint Stephen July 16, 2023
Just two weeks ago, on one of the hottest days we have had so far this year, Sr. Janis reminded me that “summer had finally come.” Summer is the time when we get our soil ready to plant our gardens, and water our lawns. Here in the South, we can start even earlier, so that our gardens produce more crops. I have already had a few tomatoes and peppers that I have picked and eaten. Each year I have tried to make changes as to how I go about planting things and getting things to grow, always trying to get a bigger and better crop. However, change comes slowly in my life, and it is a bit sluggish for most of us as well.
God’s Word is supposed to achieve the end for which it was sent. However, Jesus cautions us that that depends, in great measure, upon the soil it hits. God does the seeding, but we are told to tend the soil. So, I tended my soil, planted my plants, watered my garden, and watched it grow. Just as my few tomatoes began to ripen, and my flowers began to blossom, a smile came to my face at how well I had done. The next day, when I went out for another look, everything was all gone, a groundhog had climbed into my raised planters and eaten everything.
Until the advent of grace, we presume that we are quite fertile to hear whatever God has to say and then do what God wants us to do. We cannot be faulted for what we cannot see, unless, however, we refuse to look. Why is our garden not growing as well as we would like; perhaps it’s not our fault. However, what about our attempts to grow closer to God, perhaps our soil needs tending. We often become angry when things don’t go our way, or when things get out of control in our world as we perceive it. But if anger is your rather constant companion, do you really believe that God’s word will achieve the end for which it was sent? Do you truly believe that things will be O.K. for us and for our world? Perhaps we need to renew our faith in God’s word?
At one time or another, we are all disappointing to others, and we sin against each other. However, there are some people we really dislike, and we consider them to be our enemy, and we harden our heart against them. We are on hardened ground now, when it comes to responding to God’s word, because we no longer expect that God can or will act. When we encounter God’s word, God’s power in our life, we naturally hunger for more. If we no longer desire a fresh encounter with God’s word, something has died inside us. It is simply too long since we have been fed. We can become convinced that our life has taken a wrong turn. Yes, lives do that, but we cannot go back. We can only find our way forward. Yesterday is gone forever. Tomorrow never comes. There is only today, and it is today that the living God is speaking to us.
This is why we have gathered in Church, for one must be present to hear. Today is the day that the Lord has made. However, some have convinced themselves that Eucharist and Reconciliation are not what they need in this life, and they no longer come to Church. They are waiting until their life changes and they have everything in order. Or they are waiting for the Church to change. Our Church, and those who minister in it, has never not needed to change, but each of us must look to our own ground. How right Jesus was, when he warned of weeds in our minds. God’s word will achieve the end for which it was sent, but we are the ground upon which it must be planted. So, are we good ground or hard ground? Are we ready to hear, or are we ready with excuses?